A year ago today I was getting ready for my F1 debut. On the one hand it’s difficult to believe a whole year has gone by: on the other, that first race for HRT seems an awfully long time ago! I’m being asked quite a lot for my memories of last year’s British Grand Prix but honestly it’s all a bit of a blur.
I remember being relieved when Sunday finally came around because I was able to simply get on with it: up until then it had been pretty intense.
I’d been at the track since Tuesday, having come straight from a disastrous World Series weekend in Budapest. It was pretty full-on. Obviously you try to enjoy it, and soak it all up – which I think I did – but the end result on the Sunday was not really that good. You have to get through that first one though, to get to the next one. After Silverstone things settled down a bit.
Hopefully my experiences in the second half of last season will pay me back now. I think it helps that I’ve raced on all of these circuits in an F1 car. Driving on Friday mornings for Toro Rosso in the first half of 2011 was useful but more is generally better.
'Silverstone's always been a fun track to race at, especially flowing through the high-speed corners'
I think racing for HRT and doing all of those laps means from now on I can hit the ground running on Friday morning: instead of trying to learn the circuit I might be getting on top of balance issues or developing the car right from the off. I think it speeds up your weekend. Maybe it doesn’t make you quicker over one lap but you’ll go into the important parts of the weekend with a better setup and therefore more opportunities in the race. If you don’t start off on the right foot it can be uncomfortable.
This is the third year F1’s been at the ‘new’ Silverstone. I think the layout is better for racing. In terms of driver satisfaction… well it’s slowly growing on me. I do miss the Abbey chicane, and Bridge and Priory. Those I thought were good corners, especially Priory which was quite hard to get right. But the new bits provide two decent opportunities to overtake and on a circuit where there weren’t many passing opportunities that’s got to be a good thing.
It’s always been a fun track to race at though, especially flowing through the high-speed corners.
From Copse through to Stowe is an awesome part of the track: very fast, lots of quick direction changes. When you’re a driver in junior categories, dreaming of being in F1, that’s one of the sections you dream of driving. The track settles down a bit after that: you definitely need balls around the quick bits but the technical section around Brooklands and Luffield require quite a lot of thought – so really it’s a circuit that offers a bit of everything.
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